A frog that became addicted to morphine during experiments at the Federal hospital at Lexington, Kentucky, fell into my hands at the conclusion of their experiments. As a frog, he was a wreck. Unless he had morphine, he wouldn't eat or even look at a fly. I kept him as pet and gave him a name, but it became rather a problem supplying him with morphine. Being merely a laboratory assistant and not a doctor or even a nurse, I had no access to the drug, which many doctors here are studying, attempting to discover a cure for human addicts.
However, I'd gotten to like him. He was a full-grown bullfrog, slimy and green, and i kept him in a fishtank cage in my room, which was on the grounds of the hospital in a building occupied by laboratory assistants, nurses' aides, and kitchen workers. All the fellows on the floor became fond of his voice. ordinarily I believe frogs croak only in the evening, but our frog would begin to croak whenever he needed a fix. It was a mellow beautiful belch, mellifluous, euphonious, and strong, and I might add, very male, not a loud, but not unlike the bellow of a bull from a hilltop.
I'd been to the dentist several months previously, and I had some pills for pain, which I had never used, stuck away in my dresser drawer. I crushed them and added a little bit to his water, and he gulped it right down and was quiet. Because a frog doesn't weigh much, it doesn't take very much of an opiate to be effective, and by careful division of the dosage, the white powder I had mad from my pills lasted several weeks.
A baker from the hospital kitchen whose room was down the hall from mine next furnished e with some cough medicine which had been prescribed for a throat infection. actually he shared the medicine with the frog every day, depriving himself so the frog wouldn't get sick. But the baker got well, his hacking cough abated, and my frog was out of opiate again.
He croaked all night.
I wasn't sleeping myself, an about 3 a.m. I
heard a alight noise outside my door. As i glanced in that direction,
I saw a glassene envelope being slid under my door. i got out
of bed and opened the door, but whoever had done it had vanished.
Inside the envelope was -- Lord knows what it really was, perhaps
it was actually heroin, but more probably it was medicine someone
had snitched from one of the wards. Anyway, it worked. I put a
tiny fraction of it in his water and he gulped it eagerly, and
then stared at me with a long grateful look. The pupils of his
eyes were like pinpoints. Soon he closed his eyes and rested contentedly,
though I doubt he slept. But everyone on our floor finally did.
He was a swell frog.
Everyone on the floor was familiar with his medical history and was discreet about his problem for otherwise I think i might have gotten into trouble if any of the staff nurses or doctors had discovered what I was doing.
Only men lived in our building but on weekend
afternoons we were allowed to have female visitors in our rooms
and frequently these guests were brought in to meet my frog.
He was our mascot.
One afternoon a laboratory assistant with whom I often worked, and who was a friend, was visited by his two teenage sisters, and he brought them into my room. They made a big fuss over the frog and one of them insisted on holding it in her hands. She was a terribly pretty young thing. She didn't mind that it was wet and she insisted on giving him some medicine herself. The frog was quite content and seemed almost especially friendly. He sat there in her hands as if he liked it. I had left the room for a minute, leaving the two girls and my friend and the frog in my room, when suddenly I heard what sounded like a peal of thunder and a brilliant light flooded the hallway, emitted from my room. I rushed into the room and saw a stranger standing there, a tall italian-looking guy.
"What happened? And what are you doing
in my room?" I demanded of the stranger. I gave a quick glance
at the scene and added, "And what happened to my frog?"
the girl answered, "I kissed the frog-- and this man appeared in a big flash of light."
"Allow me to introduce myself," volunteered the stranger to the girl. "I am Prince......." and he rattled off some Italian name which I couldn't make out. He continued, "Many years ago I was transformed into a frog, to remain one until I should be kissed by a maiden. My dear, will you become my wife? I know where there is a great treasure, and you shall live in a palace, among beautiful fountains and great old trees where the weather is always like summer. Will you be my wife?
The sweet child's lip curled into a sneer, and her eyes opened wide with astonishment. "You think I would marry a junkie?
"In that case, my friends, I bid you good day. My best wishes to you all--good-by forever." and so saying, he stepped out the window, and I never saw him again.
I have since decided he was a burglar and that
he stole my frog, because i never saw my frog again either.
It is true, however, that a couple of years later my friend, the lab oratory assistant with whom I often work, showed me a picture on the society page of a New York newspaper. He said, "Look! There's that burglar who stole your frog!"
It is true there was a remarkable resemblance. It was a photograph of princess of the Netherlands with an Italian prince, and they were soon to be married.
But you know how newspaper photographs are.
I don't think it was the same person.
I told my brother-in law not to mention it because my wife likes to kid me about how she might have married a prince, and so I didn't even bother showing her that photograph.